Archive: 2014

10 Tips on Surviving Two Under Two
I am officially a "two under two" survivor!
6 Natural Hair Tips for Busy Moms
You are just as important as everyone else. Take the time to take care of you too!

It's easy to praise God when things are going good in your life. That new job that you've been praying for...that new promotion...more money in your bank account. But what about praising God through the bad times? That's when God does his best work!

I felt led to come on here and share with you guys my testimony.

Let's rewind to two years ago:

I was engaged in October of 2012. I was 20 years old, and my fiance at the time was 22. From the very beginning, we got so much opposition from people about us being married so young. People telling us we're too young to get married. We should wait. Of course, we had people who were happy for us, but then we had others giving the side eye like "Are you sure you know what you're doing???" At that point, our decision to get married had nothing to do with us thinking we know it all, thinking we have it all together (cause we knew we didn't, and still don't), or thinking that marriage would be a walk in the park (because let's be real, marriage isn't easy all the time). We made the decision to get married with every intention of being obedient to God and to do what was pleasing to Him. I mean, we had been together for five years at the time, so it was about time we take it to the next level. That's what some people didn't get.

To add fuel to the fire, my then fiance didn't have steady job and was on unemployment. He saved what he could while also paying his monthly bills. I was a full time student working only 15 hours a week and saved what I could.

But we somehow came up with enough money to put a $1400 down payment to secure our venue for our July 26, 2014 wedding. Even then, we had folks telling us maybe we should change the date and wait until 2015 so we could save more money. But our God is greater than our circumstance! We continued to believe and trust that God would bless us and we would have all that we would need to pay for both our wedding and have enough saved for an apartment.

The end of 2013 came, and I started to get a bit worried because we didn't have nearly enough money to pay for anything. We had maybe $2,000 saved, but the rest of our venue would cost us another $4,000, plus we needed money for other wedding expenses and at least $3000 for first month's rent and a security deposit for an apartment.

But God!

In December, my husband started a new job, but it was only temporary. The concern then was what would he do as far as employment once his time was up. How would we pay rent once we find an apartment based on my income alone? How could we even get an apartment? My husband had made enough money while working, so we were able to save a huge chunk, and we both saved a majority of our tax refunds for 2013. But there was still that question of how would things work out? 

After much prayer and walking by faith and not by sight alone:

He got hired permanently at his job in March of this year...with benefits!

We had family members bless us with money before the wedding.

My father gave his entire tax refund to us to help with the cost of the wedding. Every. Single. Penny.

My mom paid for our cake and our limos.

My grandmother paid for our honeymoon to Puerto Rico.

Mind you, we never asked anyone to pay for anything. We just continued to believe the Lord would bless us someway and somehow, and boy did He show up.

With all of our monthly expenses, we still had enough money to pay for whatever was not covered. We had everything we needed for our wedding day, and our special day couldn't have been any better.

Only thing we needed was an apartment, and we're still on the hunt for one now. The devil has been hitting us left and right with stuff from the very beginning, and I can tell you one thing: he does not give up! I'm convinced that he didn't want us to get married. He doesn't want to see people married, especially young people. His plan is to kill, steal, and destroy, and any way he could sabotage and prevent our day from happening, he did. But did he win? NO! And in the end, he still won't win!

His attacks continue. It's been a headache trying to find an apartment. Just yesterday we were hoping to get some good news from what seemed like the perfect apartment for us. The size of the apartment was great, it was easy for both of us to get to work and for me to get to school, the location was decent, and it was in our budget. But if it's not the length of my husband's employment (in NYC, some apartments require you to be employed for at least a year. He's been employed for only 8 months, 5 months permanently), it's our credit scores that are a problem (which are both good, so I'm not understanding what the problem is! We see one thing when we pull up our credit scores, but landlords see another when they do a credit check, and we've viewed all three...IDK what that's about!) The enemy keeps throwing these monkey wrenches in to trip us up, but I'm not giving him the satisfaction of seeing us discouraged.

I just know that through all of this, God is still good! He brought us this far, so I know he won't fail us now. I know that the best is yet to come. Right now as newlyweds, we're living with my husband's parents, which could be frustrating because we want our own space and privacy. But I can't complain and be unhappy about it. Right now, it is what it is, and I just thank God for bringing us this far. I know that He is in the midst of our situation and things will work out for our good.

I tell you guys this long story to say this:

When things get tough....praise God anyway! Don't give the devil the benefit of seeing you down because of a setback. Don't add fuel to his fire by giving him what he wants. When things don't go as expected, see it as a SET UP to give the Almighty God some praise.

I'm reading a few Bible plans on my Youversion Bible app on my phone, and one is called "When You're Hoping for a Miracle." It's a daily devotional by Rick Warren, and one of the things he says is, "Miracles never happen in your comfort zone, when everything's great and convenient. The path to a miracle is through uncomfortable territory."

Right now, we're in uncomfortable territory, but God is still good. The only thing we can do is practice extreme faith, focus on continuing to be being obedient, praise and thank God despite our circumstances, and learn more of His ways. Then is when we'll experience God's power and He'll turn things around. This is something my Pastor has been talking about over the past couple of weeks, and it just feels so good to get a revelation of what it is God has been saying and put it into practice.

Don't allow a setback to get you down. When you praise God despite your circumstances, you cause confusion in the camp of the enemy. He won't know what to do since he's expecting you to get upset! Don't let the devil steal God's glory. In EVERYTHING, give thanks and praise to God. He'll turn your situation around.  

"Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph! For the Lord Most High is awesome; He is a great King over all the earth. He will subdue the peoples under us, And the nations under our feet."
  Psalms 47:1-3 NKJV

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
                  I Thessalonians 5:16-18 NKJV

"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."
 Romans 8:28 NKJV

I pray this post encourages somebody. It's easy to get caught up in how messed up our situation is and how things aren't going the way we want to. But when you've made it this far, that means God has kept you all this time! That's all the more reason to praise and worship Him! The odds may be against you, but it's not over until God says it's over!

Hey peeps! Happy June!! It's been a while since I've posted anything but I am back! School, work, and wedding planning (a month and half more to go!!) has been keeping be suuuper busy this semester, but I'm back into the swing of things. 

I thought I'd come back to you guys and share a few (or a lot!) of the things I've been loving over the past few months. There's a little bit of everything: hair products, beauty, fashion, lifestyle.

Giorgio di Aqua Perfume | This stuff smells ahhhmazing! This was a birthday present I got from my mom in March. I'd been trying to find my signature scent for a couple months - something that was sexy yet mature, and I found it in this! I stumbled across it a few weeks before my birthday in a Sephora Beauty Insider booklet I got in the mail and it was love at first sniff! It lasts all day long, and I've gotten lots of compliments at work about it. I've gone through almost the whole bottle, so it's time to purchase a new one. I tend to spray myself a million times before I leave the house, but this perfume is a bit pricey so with my next bottle I'll have to practice using it sparingly.

Rose Gold Fossil Watch | This was also a birthday present, but from my fiance. I wear this thing just about every single day, and when I forget to put it on, I just don't feel right! It's like the perfect accessory to any outfit. 

Leopard Print | So, I've been having this weird obsession with leopard print lately. Idk what it is, but I just love it! I have a leopard print scarf that I wore just about every day when the weather was still cool. I have these gorgeous leopard print loafers I purchased from Target that I just love wearing. I recently purchased a leopard print maxi skirt from Forever 21. I even bought a leopard print wallet phone case....can you tell how much I love leopard yet? I even tried convincing the fiance to let me incorporate leopard into our new apartment once we move in next month (but of course, he wasn't having it).
Alikay Naturals Avocado Cream Hair Mask & Honey and Sage Deep Conditioner | Back in March I bought some samples from Alikay Naturals, and I fell in love with just about everything I tried! If I had to pick the items I loved the most, it would be the Avocado Cream Hair Mask and the Honey and Sage Deep Conditioner, hands down. I've been on the hunt for the perfect deep conditioner for months! One that gives me the slip that I need and moisturizes and strengthens my hair. Putting this stuff in my hair and rinsing it out I was like YAAAAAAASSSSSSS!! My hair felt like butta! These are two staples that I've incorporated into my hair regimen and my hair has been loving it! 

Olay Total Effects 7 in 1 Salicylic Acid Acne Cleanser | It wasn't until the end of last year when my skin started changing. I've never had bad acne as a teenager, just little breakouts here and there, but last year I've been noticing more breakouts than usual. I get a pimple every now and then, but I had these little bumps on my face that I was not too happy about. I was using the CVS brand of Neutrogena's Facial Cleanser, but that stuff dried my skin out something fierce! I started using this stuff, and it's a pretty good cleanser. It doesn't even feel like a salicylic acid cleanser because it's so gentle on my skin. 

Clean & Clear Deep Cleaning Astringent & Demerest Eczema Medicated Lotion | This may seem like one weird combination of products, but this stuff has been working for me! I recently started using the Astringent to help keep breakouts at bay and prevent future ones and it's been working wonders on my face. As my night time moisturizer, I use the Dermerest Eczema Medicated Lotion. I don't have eczema, and I've never had eczema, but this stuff is good! My godmother put me on to this stuff - she has eczema and I believe she used this stuff on her hands, but she also used it for her face and it's kept her skin super clear! Using these two products has kept my face pretty clear, and I cannot complain! 

Benefit They're Real Mascara | I've been using this mascara since December, and I will never use another mascara again....seriously. I was using the Maybelline Falsies Mascara and I even tried the Maybelline Big Eyes Mascara as well, but there was some serious clump action going on, and I wasn't too fond of that. I already have some pretty long lashes, but this Benefit Mascara elongates them even more and it separates each and every lash and it looks natural! It's a little pricey at Sephora ($24 for a full size). I started out with a trial size ($10 by the way) since December and I still have a ways to go before it runs out, so I think I'll be purchasing the trial size instead of the full size. $24 for mascara is a little steep for my pockets!  

Cantu Shea Butter Leave In Conditioning Repair Cream | This will always be a staple leave in conditioner of mine. It gives great moisture, and can be used either as a leave in or a style. It gives me great definition and my puffs are always popping! 

Books by Myles Munroe and Emerson Eggerich | My fiance and I have started our pre-marital counseling classes with our Pastor. Our classes so far have focused on laying the Biblical foundation down for our marriage, as we are both believers, and a lot of what we've learned so far has been confirmation from what we've been hearing from God individually and as a couple. In addition to using the Word of God as the foundation for our marriage, he suggested some supplemental readings that he thought would be helpful. I haven't gotten through all of the books, but let me tell you....these are great books! 

Myles Munroe's Single, Married, Separated, and Life After Divorce differentiates between "single" and "unmarried," emphasizing the importance of singleness as being whole and complete not only in yourself but in Christ while you're unmarried, married, and, if it comes down to it, divorce. Eggerich's Cracking the Communication Code teaches couples how to understand and "decode" each other. Men speak in a language of respect and women speak in a language of love, which will definitely help couples understand each other.

Page after page, I've reflected back to disagreements my fiance and I have had where we both misunderstand each other, or he doesn't know why I acted a certain way or I don't know why he said what he said. Of course, you talk it out, but this book helps you uncover the root of the problem: love and respect. Men think women are hard to understand and such is the case for women, but we're simply just different creatures speaking two different languages, and this book helps couples understand each other's language, which is super important since one of the number one reasons for divorce is communication. I love both these books because they use the Word of God to back up their arguments so I know this isn't just something that's made up. The Bible talks about how the husband is to love his wife just as Christ loves the Church, His bride, and women are to respect their husbands, and everything just started to make sense when reading both these books. They're a great resource both for couples already married and those preparing for marriage, like myself.

Photo Source | Glenford Nunez via Glenford Nunez Photography

Over the past few weeks, we’ve talked about everything you need to know about caring for your natural hair. We discussed some of the pros of going natural and some important musts that come with being natural, like keeping the hair moisturized. We’ve also learned how important it is to assess your natural hair, looking at things like hair texture and hair porosity and assessing any damage to your hair, which will all determine which products are best to use for your hair. Last week, we learned about some of the essential products you’ll need for your hair when building a hair regimen to help maintain the protein-moisture balance for optimal length retention.

All of these things are fine and dandy, but it's pointless and won't work unless you’re consistent with your hair regimen. Consistency is so important when developing a natural hair regimen. If you expect to see results, consistency is key. You won’t always find what works for your hair right away. It takes some experimenting to figure out what your hair likes and what your hair doesn’t like, and this could take a while. Like anything in life, it's a process, and by using your products consistently, you'll see results.

For the product junkies, it may be time go to product junkie rehab and narrow your products down to the essentials so you can see what actually works for your hair. Trying multiple new hair products at the same time "just because" isn't ideal if your trying to develop a solid regimen. As a recovering product junkie, I know it’s hard, but if your constantly using different products on your hair just for the fun of it, you’ll never know what’s working and what’s not working. 

Quick side note: After using a certain product for a while, your hair develops some kind of immunity and gets used to it, causing your hair to not react to it the same way. Usually there’s a simple solution to this: Clarify your hair! If clarifying doesn’t work, it may be time to try something new. Doesn't mean go out and be a product junkie again! Just buy something to replace the product that's not working for you anymore and test it out.

Here’s a few tips to help you stay on track:

Set a Time Frame | Challenge yourself by setting a time frame to stick to some products. Try sticking to them for four-six months. Of course, if a product doesn't do anything for your hair the first couple uses or if it's drying your hair out, try something different. But if it's decent, give it a go for a while!

Set a Natural Hair Goal | Give yourself a goal and a time frame to accomplish it. When you set goals for yourself, you’re more likely to stay consistent and follow through with it because of your motivation. Also, try to set realistic goals. For example: Wanting to reach waist length when your hair is only shoulder length in three months isn’t realistic, since hair grows an average of 1-1.5 inches a month. You’ll find yourself disappointed setting unrealistic hair goals.

Selfie Time! | Well, not necessarily a selfie, but when you’re on a hair journey, it’s important to take pictures to track your progress. Before, I was just taking pictures because I thought my hair was cute, not thinking about tracking any progress, but pictures definitely help. I especially take pictures whenever I’m doing a blow out on my hair so I can see differences in length. Taking pictures is a good way to see if your current regimen is working or not. Seeing differences in length, shine, curl definition, and just overall health of your hair lets you know you’re on the right track, and it’ll motivate you to continue whatever it is you’re doing.

Re-stock | If you've found something that’s been working for your hair, you don’t want to run out of it, especially a conditioner/deep conditioner. To stay consistent, you need your products around! You don’t want to start using something different when you've run out of your essential products. When I’m buying products, I either buy large bottles of it, or buy more than one, especially with my conditioners since I’m always running out of conditioner since I use a ton of it (good thing the products I use are relatively affordable, right?)

Slow and Steady Wins the Race | Take it one day at a time with your natural hair journey. Have patience! It’ll take a while to see results, so don’t rush the process or give up. 

Fellowship with Other Naturals | Talking to other naturals is a great way to stay encouraged and motivated on your natural hair journey. The love and support from the natural hair community is amazing, and it’ll just encourage you to stay focused. Reading blogs and watching YouTube videos are great ways to get some inspiration, some product suggestions and where to buy, and some info on how to care for your hair.  

I hope you all enjoyed this Natural Hair 101 series! You’ll continue to have to have to assess your hair and build a regimen because things change all throughout out natural hair journey. 

**This post was inspired by the ABCs of Natural Hair, a series from Krystal K. of The Feisty House. Check out her posts here:
Marley Twists
Now that things have picked up at school, finding the time to do my hair this semester will definitely be a challenge! I've been on a hair growth journey since my bout  with hair thinning back in October. Taking five English classes this semester (yes...FIVE), I won't have a lot of time to dedicate to rewtisting my hair every night and styling it, so I decided it was time to put in a protective style, one that I wouldn't have to worry about touching up every few days, which I tend to have to do if I'm wearing my hair in flat twists.

I opted for Marley twists! I was on the fence on whether or not I should go get my hair professionally done by my African hair braider, or if I should just try to put these bad boys in myself. If I payed to have them put in, they'd last a bit longer and would be more secure versus me trying to do it myself and having the twists slip. Knowing how tight they braid, I decided to do them myself. I didn't want to risk losing hair or experiencing thinning because of the extra tension on my hair and scalp. They snatch every little piece, and while the end result looks nice, it's painful for the next few days! My hair has thickened up a bit and it's growing, and I don't want to go back to where I was in October. Besides, I kind of know how to braid with extensions from when I would touch up my braids in the past, so I figured I'd give it a shot. I also know how much tension my hair and scalp can take, so my braids were secure, but not tight to the point where my scalp hurts(that's never a good thing!)

I bought my hair from my local beauty supply store. I knew I wanted medium sized  twists, so I got six packs of hair ($5.99 each). I ended up only using three packs and a maybe five pieces from a fourth pack. My beauty supply store had quite a selection of Marley Hair to choose from. The one I bought was the only Marley Hair in my beauty supply store that felt soft and more like my own hair. Other brands felt super coarse, dry, and rough, which I didn't like.

It took me about five hours to install the twists. I watched lots of Youtube videos on how to make your twists look natural and seamless using the invisible method to blend the Marley Hair with your own hair, but I could not figure it out to save my life! The Marley Hair kept slipping, and I just didn't have the patience to try to get it right. Instead, I just stuck with what I know. I braided about a half an inch down, and then twisted the rest of the way down. At least this way I knew for sure that my twists would be secure. They kind of look like dread locs, but I love them!

To moisturize, I spritz my hair with my water, aloe vera juice, and olive oil spritz. Then, I use either my Kimmaytube Leave in Conditioner Mix (love this stuff! I use Cantu Shea Butter Leave-In Conditioning Repair Cream as my base) or Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner and EVOO or Coconut Oil to seal in the moisture. I only moisturize a little less than half way down the twists, which is where my hair ends in the twist. Whatever's left over, I'll rub down the remainder of the twists just to soften the hair. I then oil my scalp with my oil mixture, and that's it! I do this every other night.

I washed my scalp last week because it was super itchy! I used this method here from BlakizBeautyful, better known as Jenell Stewart, using Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo and Conditioner, and my scalp loved every minute of it!

I'm loving my Marley Twists, so I plan on keeping these in for maybe another three weeks, and then I'll take them down right before my birthday in March, give my hair some TLC and let it rest for about a week, and then put them right back in. It's just easier not having to do my hair, especially since I have a busy semester ahead of me. And I just started doing T25 this week (deets coming about that soon), so I don't have time to co-wash every day.

So far, two thumbs up for Marley twists!
Photo Credit: Glenford Nunez via Glenford Nunez Photography

So last time, we talked about assessing your natural hair. Assessing the condition of your natural hair is important because it'll help you figure out what products are best for your particular hair type, texture, and any issues you may be facing with your hair, like dryness or breakage. When building your natural hair regimen, the most important thing is to build one that will give your hair the proper protein-moisture balance it needs for optimal health. A good natural hair regimen should include the following:


Pre-pooing your hair provides your hair with so much moisture before the shampoo process, preventing your hair from drying out. Before shampooing, clarifying, or co-washing your hair, apply an oil of your choice to your hair, cover it with a shower cap, and let it sit for about 20 minutes. So the moisture can really penetrate the strands, sitting under a hooded dryer helps. Pre-pooing also helps with the detangling process. Before I shampoo/co-wash my hair, I use either coconut oil or olive oil on my hair, finger detangle, and then let it sit for a while before I move on to the next step. My hair is easier to work with because I've already detangled prior to washing, and my hair is uuuubbbeerrr soft!

Shampoo/Clarifying Shampoo

A shampoo or any clarifying shampoo helps to remove any build up that your hair might incur from styling throughout the weeks. I shampoo with a mild no sulfate shampoo only when I need my hair to be clean, but not squeaky clean (I use Shea Moisture's Raw Shea Butter Moisture Retention Shampoo.) I clarify with my ACV rinse when I feel my hair needs some deeeep cleaning. It's important to shampoo/clarify your hair because build up prevents moisture from getting into the hair, no matter how many times you co-wash and deep condition (it's just product sitting on top of product, basically.) However, don't shampoo or clarify too often because it can strip your hair of its moisture. 


Conditioning is sooo important! It puts back all the moisture you lose after shampooing. Use a moisturizing, conditioner that has lots of slip to detangle your strands, working in sections as you do so. Working in sections makes detangling a lot easier, and you lose less hair since you're not raking your comb through your whole head. For even more length retention, try finger detangling! I know finger detangling can take a while to get used to, but it really is something worth trying. Something I had to do to work my way up to it was to do as much finger detangling as possible, removing the major knots and tangles, and then I used my wide tooth comb. That way, you're not combing through major knots and tangles, which can cause your hair to snap and break if you're not careful. 

Deep Conditioner

Deep conditioning your hair is an absolute must. Now, with deep conditioner, you'll need three kinds: a moisturizing deep conditioner, a light protein, and a heavy protein deep conditioner to use once a month. 

  • Moisturizing Deep Treatment // My low-porosity hair screams for moisture! Now that I know my hair a little better after assessing it, I make sure to deep condition with heat at all times because it's so hard getting moisture into my hair. I've been using Herbal Essences Hello Hydration Conditoner and mixed in some oils and honey as my deep conditioner. It's been working pretty well, but I like it better as a co-wash. I'm on the hunt for a really good deep conditioner with a little more slip. I do a moisturizing deep treatment every other week. 
  • Light Protein Treatment // I do a light protein treatment with Aubrey Organics GPB Conditioner on weeks I'm not doing a moisturizing deep treatment, alternating between the two. I started doing this so my hair can maintain the proper protein-moisture balance. Too much of both protein and moisture can lead to breakage, so it's important to incorporate both into your regimen. Protein treatments once a month wasn't working for me since my hair kept breaking because of a moisture overload. Once I started switching things up and adding those light protein treatments in every other week, I noticed less breakage with my hair. It adds just a splash of protein to my hair, making it a bit stronger. 
  • Heavy Protein Treatment // Since our hair is made of protein, it needs protein to stay strong. It's important to do a heavy protein treatment once a month or when needed to add some strength back into your hair. You shouldn't do these often though since too much protein can lead to breakage. I've been using the Egg and Mayo protein treatment every 6 weeks or so. I planned on trying Henna as a protein treatment, but it's just so much work! I need something more low maintenance, less messy, and less time consuming (my time is limited being a college student!) The Cherry Lola Treatment seems doable, so I think I may give that a try once I take down my Marley Twists (post coming up about those soon). 
Leave-in Conditioner

Applying a leave-in conditioner after you wash/co-wash your hair gives your hair some added moisture. I've been using my Kimmaytube Leave-in Conditioner with Cantu Shea Butter Leave-In, Aloe Vera Juice, JBCO, and Olive Oil, and my hair has been loving it. It adds moisture and balances out my hair's pH. This also doubles up as a styler for me, giving me great definition, so that's always a plus!


We've been talking about moisture all throughout this post because it really is that important. Opt for a water-based moisturizer that doesn't contain any mineral oil or petroleum, as that will just sit on top of your hair, preventing moisture from getting into your strands. I do the L.O.C method every other day, spritzing with water, applying an oil, and then my Kimmaytube Leave-In. 


After moisturizing your hair, it's important to seal with some type of oil or butter to lock all of that moisture in. I've been using either Coconut Oil or EVOO to seal my hair, and my hair loves both oils! 

**This post was inspired by the ABCs of Natural Hair, a series from Krystal K. of The Feisty House. Check out her posts here:
Photo Credit: Glenford Nunez via Glenford Nunez Photography

These next few segments of the Natural Hair 101 series is inspired by a series Krystal K. of The Feisty House did on her blog called ABC's of Natural Hair. She has really helpful info on assessing natural hair that some naturals don't necessarily think about. They have issues with things like breakage, dryness, and length retention with no real reason why their hair is behaving the way it is. 

You can check out Krystal's series here:

It's important to assess your hair to figure out what your hair needs and what products to use to meet those needs. I've been natural going on three years now, and it has definitely been no easy feat figuring out my hair and how to care for it. While my hair is at the longest its ever been since I was a little girl, my biggest issue over this past year has been breakage! I'm still dealing with it, but with a few changes in my regimen, I'm noticing a lot less breakage in my hair. I'm just now starting to figure out my hair, what works, what to change/eliminate, and how to better care for it.

Everyone's hair is different. When I went natural, I only used products based on word of mouth, which led to my product junky-ism because I wanted to try EVERYTHING (I've gone to product junky rehab, so I haven't been buying anything new lately. I still have a closet full of products which I'm trying to just use up.) It was only towards the end of 2013 when I started learning about things like pH balance and hair porosity. Uh, HELLO?!?!? Where have I been for my first two years of being natural?? I mean, I knew the basics, like no sulfates, no silicones (which, by the way, is debatable because like I said, every head is different…silicones may work for one head while it may not for the other), deep condition, etc… Not that these things aren't important, BUT, things like pH balance and hair porosity, and hair texture are equally (if not more) important as well, don’t you think? I think so. I mean, how can you truly know what products to use without really knowing your hair, assessing the qualities of it as well as any damage it my have? 

For example: moisturizing and sealing is crucial when it comes to natural hair care. One sealant that naturals have fallen head over heels with is Shea Butter. However, Shea Butter may not be ideal for naturals with thin, fine strands, as it can weigh the hair down. So, what’s my point? You may go out and buy some Shea Butter because you saw how well it works for some naturals, but let's say it doesn't work out like you expected. I mean, you've heard such great things about it, so it should work, right? Shea Butter is ideal for naturals with thicker, coarser hair because their strands can take it. But, if you’re a natural with a finer texture, Shea Butter may weigh your strands down. You may have to try using just a little at a time, or just eliminating it from your regimen and trying something else. Do you see why things like knowing your hair texture is important now? Knowing things like your hair texture, porosity, whether you're protein sensitive or not, is important because when you know these things about your hair, you'll be able to make better choices when buying hair products instead of choosing what looks good, what’s new, or what other naturals are trying (which is a mistake I think some natural make). Okay, enough of my rambling already...on to the assessment!

What are some of the products you're currently using in your hair regimen? It's important to assess the products you are using because the products you are using may be attributed to any damage you see in your hair. The key to keeping your hair healthy and length retention is moisture and a protein-moisture balance. Natural hair is more susceptible to dryness because the natural sebum that our scalp produces cannot travel down the curves and bends of our hair, so it's important that we moisturize our hair on a daily basis to prevent breakage. Some ingredients to steer clear from that causes dryness, leading to breakage, are:
  • Amonium and sodium laurel/ laureth sulfate: this is a detergent found in most shampoos used for its cleansing and foaming properties. Sulfates strips your hair of its natural oils giving it that squeaky clean feeling and leaving it feeling dry and brittle. 
  • Lanolin, petroleum, and mineral oil: these ingredients are often found in products geared towards "Black hair." They offer no moisturizing properties at all, simply coating the hair, which prevents moisture from getting into the hair. They don't penetrate the hair shaft or the scalp. They just sit on top of it, causing product build up. For an alternative, try natural oils, like jojoba oil, olive oil, coconut oil, etc...  
  • Alcohol: Now, I know how you ladies like to slick down those edges with some gel. But, certain gels contain alcohol, which, can be drying to the hair. Alcohols like ethyl alcohol or isopryl alcohol (you know, the one you use for scrapes and burns), act as solvents, dissolving any moisture from your skin and hair. Not all alcohols are bad though. Cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol are what you call long chain fatty alcohols, serving as a moisturizing agent. If you're using a gel or any product that contains alcohols that dry your hair, switch it up!
  • Silicones: This one is debatable. Silicones really aren't as bad as people make them out to be. In all honesty, it really depends on the person and their hair! Silicones typically found in conditioners, and it's what provides great slip when it comes to detangling. They're usually hard to pronounce, but anything ending in "cone," "col," "conol," or "zane" is probably a silicone. The problem with siliciones for some people is that it tends to cause build up, especially since the silicones found in condtioners, like dimethicone, are not water soluble. There are some water soluble silicones, like stearoxy dimethicone. Now, some people experience build up when using products that contain silicones, and the simple solution is to clarify your hair. If you have build up on your hair, it's harder for any moisture to penetrate the hair shaft. If silicones work for your hair, carry on!
  • Parabens: Parabens are waxes used in products to act as a preservative. They act as anti-microbials and anti-fungals. That's all fine and dandy because they prevent fungus and bacteria from growing on your hair and scalp, BUT, the fact that they are waxes says enough. Water can't penetrate through wax, so moisture can't get to your hair.
Protection and Styling
How you protect and style your hair is important. Natural hair is delicate and very susceptible to breakage, so it's important to make sure you treat it with care if you want it to remain healthy.
  • Protective styling is so important! I was one of those naturals who thought I didn't need to wear protective styles, and because of it, I experienced breakage and didn't retain any length. My hair is very fine, so wearing it out and manipulating it every day isn't ideal for me. Since I have such a busy life with school, work, wedding planning, and more, I have no choice but to wear my hair in a protective style because I don't have the time to twist up my hair every night.
  • Finger detangling will be your best friend! Yes, it takes longer, but your fingers will cause less damage to your hair than your comb will. If you absolutely have to use a comb, try finger detangling as much as possible first so all the major knots and tangles are out, and then run your comb through once or twice.
  • Satin scarf/bonnet/pillowcase will keep your hair from drying out. It doesn't suck up moisture like a cotton pillow or scarf would.
  • Try using a t-shirt to dry your hair instead of a towel. Not only will your hair be less-frizzy, but there will be less damage. Wet hair is even more susceptible to damage, so drying and rubbing your hair with a towel causes damage to your cuticles.
I hope this was helpful for you ladies! Next time, we'll talk about what you need to build your regimen.

So, next up in our Natural Hair 101 series are things you should know before going natural. I already have a post up about transitioning from relaxed to natural here on Napturally Dany. That's a more extensive list on transitioning from relaxed to natural, so go check out that post. However, if I had only five tips on what you should know before going natural, here they are.

Moisture //  The absolute most important thing to know before going natural is moisture. This is extremely important to the health of natural hair. Natural hair tends to be drier than straight hair because the sebum (oil that our scalp naturally produces) can't travel down the curves and bends of our hair strands, which means less moisture is getting to the ends of our hair. Since the ends of our hair is the oldest part of our hair, it's super important to keep them moisturized since they are more fragile. Moisturizing your hair promotes length retention, as your hair isn't breaking as fast as it's growing. So ladies, remember to moisturize and seal those ends with an oil every night (or every other night, depending on your hair needs and the products you're using).

Shrinkage | Some naturals have up to 50% shrinkage, while some have up to 80% shrinkage( I have so much shrinkage, it's not even funny!) Embrace it! It comes with the territory. Moisturizing and sealing will definitely cause some shrinkage. But, there are methods you can use to stretch your hair. I try to keep my hair as stretched as possible to prevent tangles throughout the week (it also makes detangling a lot easier come wash day). Some things you can do to stretch your hair is braid-outs, twist outs, Curlformers, roller set, banding, African Threading Method, etc...

Be Gentle | It's super important to be gentle with our strands because they can break easily. You don't want to cause unnecessary breakage from pulling and tugging on your hair. Since detangling is an absolute must, instead of using a comb to detangle, try using your fingers! It's more gentle and you can feel for the tangles and knots a lot better, whereas the comb would just rip through your strands. If when combing, you hear a snap, crackle, or pop, that means it's time to stop because your breaking your hair. Instead, use your fingers- put some oil on your hands if needed and proceed to finger detangling.

Developing a Good Regimen | It's important to develop a regimen that you can stick to. Finding products that work for your hair and being consistent is super important in any hair care regimen. More about this to come in my post on Building Your Regimen in the Natural Hair 101 series.

Texture | Learn to love your hair. It's the hair that grew out of your scalp, so why not love it? I mean, if relaxers were never created, we had no flat irons, curling irons, or any other hair straightening tools and products or anything that can alter our curl pattern, you'd have no choice but to rock your natural hair and love it. It's important to remember that no two curls are the same. Just like our hair has many different textures all over, there are many naturals out there all with different textures. Everyone's hair is different, and you'll find yourself highly disappointing if you keep wishing your hair was like someone else's. Love the hair you have, embrace it, be shameless, and rock it out!
Photo Credit: Glenford Nunez via Glenford Nunez Photography 

I can think of a ton of reasons to go natural! There is no time like the present, and with the new year already upon us, why not make the turn of the new year a time to do something different, like making the decision to wear your hair in it's natural state. Some of you have been natural for a while, and are just looking for ways to better care for your hair. Some of you have decided to take that step and go natural in 2014 and are figuring out your hair and how to care for it. Some of you are still on the fence about the whole wearing your hair natural thing, and don't think you have "good hair" (btw, there's no such thing as good hair!) to wear your hair natural. To help some of you ladies out, I figured I'd create a series with some helpful information for newly naturals, existing naturals, and even those ladies that are on the fence that’ll hopefully help you all (myself included) learn more about your hair, what you're using in our hair, and how to better care for it. 

Since going natural, I get compliments from other ladies about my hair when I go out. Most of the time, its from women who aren't natural, and they always say, "Oh, I wish my hair can do that!" or I can't go natural." Ummm, sweetheart, yes you can! Nine times out of ten, its because "their hair can't do that!" There's plenty of reasons to go natural, and one of them is not so your hair can look like someone else's! If you're still undecided on whether or not you should go natural, check out these ten reasons:    

Self Acceptance | Loving yourself and your hair in it's natural state. I mean, it's part of you and it's what your are born with! We live in a society where straight hair has become acceptable. Natural hair should be seen just as acceptable as straight hair! Once the creamy crack was created, we've become convinced that wearing our hair straight is the only way to wear it, when it's not! If relaxers and other straightening tools were never created, you'd have no choice but to wear your hair the way it grows out of your scalp! Know that you are beautiful no matter how you decide to wear your hair! We've been trained to think that straight hair is "good hair," but by wearing your hair in it's natural state, you're debunking that myth and you'll stop fooling yourself, telling yourself that only one hair type looks good. There's nothing more liberating than learning about the natural you and not the person society wants you to be. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, and all of you is beautiful, kinks and all.

Less $$$ | No more weekly salon visits! Those weekly wash and sets were not cheap, especially since I always needed some kind of treatment because something was always wrong with my hair! Relaxers weren't cheap either (almost $60 depending on where you went). Being natural you don't have to worry about paying for a wash and set every week or a relaxer every two-three months!

Growth | Stronger, healthier hair. Your hair doesn't grow faster when it's natural, but virgin hair is healthier than relaxed hair because the strands aren't being damaged by chemical processes.You get to see your growth without your hair breaking off, which some relaxed women experience with their hair because of over processed and weaker ends.

Live life without your hair in the way | While having relaxed hair, we tend to let our hair affect different areas in our life, like working out, swimming, etc... Being natural can be such a freeing experience because you don't have to worry about these things! You learn to work with your hair and not against it! Yes, working out makes your scalp sweaty, and you don't want those roots to puff up. But as a natural, you don't worry about things like that. Just co-wash! Your hair loves the water anyway! 

Bye bye new growth | You actually appreciate new growth when your natural instead of becoming annoyed by it because you don't even notice it when your natural! You no longer have to worry about sweating out your perm and taking a blow dryer and flat iron to those roots, and you no longer have to worry about dealing with two different textures!

It's healthier | Perms can causes burns and irreversible damage to your scalp. Ain't no body got time for that!  

Confidence | Wearing your natural hair gives you a level of confidence that's unmatched. Being natural sets you apart. You don't look like everyone else and what the media/society says tells you to look like. In the words of Shameless Maya, BE SHAMELESS & DO YOU BOO!

Versatility | There are so many different style options when it comes to natural hair. You can rock a twist out one day, bantu knot out the next day for a more tighter curl, rock a puff the next day, wear a blow-out, and at the end of the week flat iron it. There's so many different up-do's you can try on your hair. The possibilities are endless when it comes to natural hair! No only that, natural hair comes in so many different textures and shades. It is truly one of the most versatile hair types! 

F-U-N Spells FUN!! | With the versatility comes fun!  From trying out different products and hairstyles, being natural is so much fun!

Sisterhood | You can share your natural hair journey with tons and tons of women. The natural hair community is definitely one that I enjoy being a  part of because of the sisterhood. There's women encouraging each other to go natural, women encouraging each other to don't give up on their natural hair journey (because TRUST and BELIEVE, this hair will drive you crazy sometimes). The natural hair community is one that brings black women together, which is so important and so powerful. 

So two weekends ago while in the Catskills visiting my godmother, I took a trip to Sephora. It wasn't my first time being in Sephora, but it was my first time actually buying something from Sephora.

I was on the hunt for either a powder foundation or a light weight tinted moisturizer. I wanted to start experimenting with some different looks for my wedding in July, and I also wanted something I could use to brighten under my eyes a little. I'm not that big into makeup. Nothing against the ladies who like their faces #BEAT. The looks I see floating around on Instagram are gorgeous! I like to keep it simple - fill in the brows a little, throw on some eyeliner, mascara, lip balm, and keep it pushing. If I'm going out, I'll put on some eye shadow, but my "makeup routine" is fairly simple.

My skin is pretty clear and even. I have a little redness in my cheeks and some dark circles, but that's about it. I wanted something that would even me out a little but looked very natural allowing my skin to still breathe and shine through. Something with a very light coverage...anything else would have been too cakey for me. 

My first stop before hitting up Sephora was the Bare Minerals boutique. I figured I'd try them since their foundations have naturally derived minerals that give long-lasting, breathable, light weight coverage. Sounds like pretty good stuff, right? Well, it wasn't as good as I thought. The foundation was very matte and had lots of specs in it from the minerals, which I didn't like. It was clear I had something on my face, which I didn't like. 

This is a look I did this past weekend. I applied the Tinted Moisturizer with
my fingers instead of the brush to see what look I would get.
I made my way to Sephora and decided to try the NARS Tinted Moisturizer, and I absolutely loved it! It's a bit pricey, but definitely worth it. You only need a tad bigger than a pea sized amount if you're applying it to your whole face, and it really doesn't look like you have anything on. It's very light weight and evens you out without the cakiness. I was a little leery about trying a tinted moisturizer because I didn't want it to feel like a foundation where it just sit on top of your skin. My skin looked super moisturized and supple, and it gave me a nice glow. Most importantly, it looks like my skin! The consultant that helped me used the Urban Decay All Nighter to set the tinted moisturizer so it stays on and doesn't crease or crack. I preferred this over a setting powder-- I felt like it would make me look too matte, which I didn't want. I absolutely loved the finish! It didn't look like I had anything on! The tinted moisturizer just evened me out a bit and got rid of some redness I had, but that was it. My skin still shined through, which I was very pleased with, and I still looked like myself. It does pretty well with covering up dark circles, but I think I want something a little lighter for more coverage. I think I may go back to Sephora and purchase a concealer one-two shades lighter than my skin tone and then apply the tinted moisturizer to my entire face. I saw this from the lovely Krystal Knight of The Feisty House in her everyday makeup routine post (except, she uses two different concealers). 

The tinted moisturizer was $42 (ouch!) I also purchased the All Nighter Spray, which was $29 (ouch...again), and the brush she used to apply the tinted moisturizer, which was a Sephora Brush for $29(an even bigger ouch!!) I know...I almost died when I heard the price. But, this was my first legit makeup purchase, and I wanted to purchase quality items. I know there may be something in drug stores that work just as well, but you can't try those things on in the store, which makes it a pain trying to find your shade because these stores don't have testers like Sephora or Mac. You're left to take a wild guess, which sucks because if something doesn't match, you may not be able to return it so you're just stuck with it. I've watched enough makeup videos on YouTube to know that the quality of your makeup brush determines the look you get with your foundation, and a cheap make up brush was not going to do the trick. So I decided to make the investment, and I am absolutely pleased with my purchase. It cost a lot, but this it'll last me a while since you don't need a lot of these products (if you want more coverage, the tinted moisturizer is buildable, so that would take more product...I'm happy with the light coverage). If this was something I had to buy on a monthly basis, best believe NARS would have stayed on that shelf! 
I'm definitely interested in getting into makeup and going beyond just mascara and lip gloss. The next thing I want to tackle is lip colors. I've been loving the pinks, reds, and purples I've been seeing! If you have any beauty tips, please leave them in the comments! 
Hey there! So, as you know from my October 2013 post, I was suffering from some thinning in my crown area. I thought it was the end of the world when I saw the state of my scalp! 

Just a quick recap, there are a number of things that can cause hair thinning, such as:

  • Hormonal factors, which can sometimes be genetic
  • Medical conditions, like thyroid problems, alopecia areata, scalp infections, or other skin disorders. 
  • Certain Medications used to treat things like depression, cancer, or high blood pressure.
  • Physical shock, including a sudden or excessive weight loss. 
  • Stress
  • Vitamin/nutrient deficiency. Vitamins are important for healthy hair growth, and a lack thereof can cause poor hair growth and even hair loss. 
  • Tension on the hair as a result of pulling the hair
  • WATER!!! Feeding your body from the inside out!

I was able to narrow down the causes of my hair thinning to four of these: genetics, vitamin/nutrient deficiency, tension, and water. I have a history of hair thinning on my mom's side of the family, I had stopped juicing, so I wasn't getting the nutrients I needed, I was pulling on my hair wayyyy too much, and I wasn't drinking enough water. 

To rectify the situation, I started juicing again and drinking more water to feed my body from the inside out the nutrients it needed. The most important thing I started doing was protective styling more so I wasn't pulling on my hair every day. This was extremely important for me because I have thin, fine strands, so it's easy for my hair to snap, break, and start thinning because of the excessive pulling. I also started using Mill Creek Botanicals Biotin Shampoo and Conditioner. The biotin in these products has worked wonders for my hair! Using these products along with oiling my scalp every other night with JBCO infused with Peppermint Oil has thickened that area up and my hair has grown in quite nicely. Starting out, I used these products every other week since the products have both biotin and keratin protein in it (my hair is protein sensitive!)

Here are some progress pictures:

As you can see, the area is not as spacey as it used to be. The hair in that area has definitely thickened up, which I'm happy about! I'm just happy that it's getting better! The way I was feeling about this little hiccup in my natural hair journey, I felt like I was going through a mid-life crisis....at 21! I know, a bit dramatic, but I panicked.

Since I'm limiting my shampoo use, I planned on using the Mill Creek Conditioner as my DC every other week as a little splash of protein so my hair gets that protein-moisture balance that it needs. However, this past weekend, I tried the Aubrey Organics GPB Conditioner, and I liked it a lot better than Mill Creek! Mill Creek does a good job at thickening my hair strands, but it started drying my hair out! When I rinse, my hair feels so stripped, which I don't like. I guess this is due too the fact the the product has both biotin and keratin protein in it, so it's more of a medium protein treatment, which may be too much for my hair.  Once I start hennaing my hair, which I plan I doing in the next couple of weeks, I'll be able to make a better decision on whether or not Mill Creek stays or goes. Since henna thickens and strengthens the hair strands, it may take the place of my Mill Creek Conditioner (used once a month or every 6-8 weeks as a  heavy protein treatment), and Aubrey Organics GPB Conditioner may be used as my light protein conditioner every other week. GPB made my hair feel stronger, yet moisturized in just one use, which I loved!   

So, that's my progress so far. Have any of you tried the Aubrey Organics GPB Conditioner? What were your thoughts? Let me know.

Happy New Year! With the start of the New Year, it's only fitting to make some goals for my hair while I'm still on this natural hair journey. I had an okay relationship with my hair in 2013. I spent 2013 trying to learn and figure out my hair because it started to respond differently to products I normally used, even after clarifying to get rid of build up. My goal last year was to find inexpensive products, mainly a shampoo, conditioner, and leave-in conditioner that were just as good as more expensive brands like Shea Moisture or Karen's Body Beautiful. I bought different products to figure out what worked and what didn't work for my hair, which resulted in me becoming a product junkie because I wanted to try everything! 2013 was also a lazy year for me. I didn't feel like doing anything to my hair. I got tired of doing it, especially towards the end of 2013. I wasn't deep conditioning regularly, and I just got bored with my hair. My hair has definitely grown, but I realize now that I could have retained a lot more length had my hair been healthier and had I stayed consistent. Here are some goals I've created for my natural hair journey in 2014.

Finer Detangle I've decided to give up combs completely in 2014. Yes, it takes more time finger detangling, but I lose a lot less hair when I finger detangle. After watching a video by HeyFranHey, I decided to incorporate finger detangling into my regimen. First, I get to treat my hair to a hot oil treatment before shampooing/co-washing. Second, I lose a lot less hair. Third, detangling with a conditioner should be a breeze since I've removed most of the knots and tangles prior to washing/conditioning. Fourth, I'm not ripping knots and tangles out of my hair, which leads to breakage and little-no length retention.

Co-Washing My hair could use a little more moisture than the daily moisturize and seal. I want to try co-washing instead of shampooing every week because I find that no matter what shampoo I use, my hair still feels stripped! I'll only shampoo once or twice a month to get rid of build up, but co-washing will definitely be a part of my regimen so my hair can get a little more moisture.

Protein-Moisture Balance  My hair needs this more than anything! I realize that this might have been the reason for some of breakage I was experiencing in 2013. I kept my hair moisturized, even on the days when my hair was screaming for moisture and I didn't feel like doing it, but too much moisture can cause breakage, as is the same with too much protein. I kinda steered away from protein because my hair is protein sensitive, but that doesn't mean leaving it out of your hair regimen completely. In addition to my monthly protein treatments, I'm going to incorporate a light protein conditioner into my regimen, using it every other week. So, one week I'll use a moisturizing conditioner, and the following week I'll use a light protein conditioner, just to maintain that protein-moisture balance.

Henna?? Speaking of protein treatments, I was thinking of incorporating Henna into my regimen as well. I have very fine, fragile strands, making my hair susceptible to breakage. My regular protein treatments just aren't doing the trick! In addition to incorporating light protein conditioning treatments to my regimen, I figured I'd give Henna a try for that boost of strength.

Deep Conditioning My hair will thank me for this! The reason why I didn't keep up with deep conditioning regularly was pure laziness! But, if I want to see growth and length retention, I have to suck it up and deep condition regularly with heat! Since my strands have low porosity, adding heat to my DC's will open up my cuticles so moisture is absorbed into the hair better.

Protective Styling This will be a must for this year. I love my twist outs and my puffs, but I need to give my hair a break and tuck away those ends. I've been loving mini-twists(I've installed them three times already), so I plan to install those regularly just to give my hair a break from manipulation. I've also been experimenting with flat twisted up-do's so those will become part of my regimen as well. Of course, it's important to moisturize your hair while it's in these styles!

Live a Healither Life This may not sound like a natural hair goal, but believe it or not, what you put into your body is important if you want healthy hair.It's important to feed your body from the inside out, and that means getting rid of all of the junk, incorporating more fruits and veggies in your diet, drink lots of water, and most importantly, exercise! Exercise promotes a stronger hair growth cycle. It's about time I stick with my weight loss regimen!

So, these are my natural hair goals for 2014. My goal with 2014 is to be more consistent, not just with my natural hair regimen, but in life in general. What are some of your natural hair goals for the New Year??
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